A client, Diane, we’ll call her, recently reported in an email to her coach and me having two really difficult conversations: one with a former love-interest and one with a friend. In both, she had to admit some embarrassing thoughts she was hiding. She did NOT get the response she was hoping for or feel the freedom we told her she could expect when she was done. Crap. So she came back looking for some answers from us both.
Here was my response:
When I make a confession to someone about a bad behavior, I feel better if I know I’ve made a dent in the trait that feeds the bad behavior. I feel better if I have real remorse and I’ve put myself on the hook to fix something by promising to the other person a change. Did you do that? If not, why?
Also I have a hunch you are not sure how the other person experiences you. Have you asked?
And my last thought is, maybe there is something in the relationship you are still not saying, so you didn’t get that real feeling of relief that full disclosure would give you. Half the truth can sometimes feel even worse than none at all. Any merit to these ideas?
Damn…all of the above? Do I really have to go back to these people and continue what have already been extremely difficult conversations for me? (I think I know your answer.) Can I start by figuring out how the other person has experienced me? Because this feels like the obstacle of me going back to them. I’m thinking I’m looking like a bumbling fool to them.
With my friend, I still feel like I can’t be totally honest with her based on her reaction to me, and that’s the truth I haven’t told her. For my ex-crush, I’m scared that the more I talk, the worse it makes him feel and the less he’ll like me. I don’t know if that’s the other half of the truth I want to share, or just the fact that I really like him.
I thought a little truth was better than nothing?
Then her coach chimed in brilliantly:
One of the things we have been talking about is how do you change the pattern of expecting intimacy versus creating it. Intimacy is created when we take the time to truly know ourselves and others. It is a pure exchange. YUP, it can feel scary to peel back the layers, and sometimes we cry. Our deepest relationships are built on many conversations.
With your girlfriend I hear envy and judgment–welcome to the human race. The resolution there is that you want to love her, and your jealousy (which triggers your righteousness) is getting in the way. I will help you author the conversation to open this up, but you are on the right track starting with figuring out how she experiences you.
Regarding your ex-crush, you just need to check in on his experience. The bottom line is understanding other people’s perspectives, so you know them better. You have to know him before you can say you love him, otherwise it is a fantasy – and THIS is the pattern you are breaking.
Readers, do you see yourself in this story? Can you relate to telling a “little bit” of truth and telling yourself it was enough? Can you see where you also have stopped short of “creating intimacy” and have just expected other people to open up to you first?
It’s a trick! Our brains, very cleverly, convince us of thoughts like:
- “I told him part of it, can’t he figure out the rest?”
- “I don’t need to say that part, it’s not important that she know what I really think.”
This is still your “chicken” convincing you that you don’t have to tell the truth, nor the “whole truth” and certainly NOT “nothing but the truth.” But like Diane, if you stop short of being vulnerable and honest (with grace), you will neither have the intimacy you say you want, nor be relieved of the burden of hiding those embarrassing thoughts.
Please write in to the blog with an example of how you can relate to Diane. I promise, shining a bright light onto your “dark” thoughts (with a sense of humor please!!) will give you that freedom and intimate feeling with friends and loved ones. Don’t miss out!
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